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Salamanca Spring: a photojournal

When spring sweeps over the Castilian highlands, Salamanca’s honey-coloured stone buildings set the scene for a dramatic comeback. Within no time the umbrellas and café tables reappear on the streets, now coloured by a multitude of sunglasses, smiles and scoops of ice cream.

I am sitting in the shade of a secluded garden, tucked away behind the cathedral’s mass of encrusted sandstone. The air is thick with spring blossoms, their delicate petals glowing vibrantly against a cloudless blue sky. Nearby the padlocks on the wishing well rock gently in the breeze.

Without a bit of local knowledge this particular locale can be difficult to find, but that’s one of the qualities that make it so rewarding. Deliciously low-key, the Orchard of Calixto and Melibea is the legendary setting for Salamanca’s very own Romeo and Juliet story.

Romantic legend aside, this part of town holds some of the city’s most intriguing sights. While most tourists make a beeline for the cathedral, there is one other religious building that commands the attention of all those who walk through its doors. In fact, it’s fair to say that it will stop you in your tracks even before you reach the entrance.

This is none other than the Convento de San Esteban (Convent of St. Stephen), an absolute masterpiece of Spanish Renaissance architecture. The proud owner of a dazzling Plateresque façade, it was here that Columbus stayed as he sought royal approval for his first transatlantic voyage.

Now Salamanca may not be anywhere near the coast, but it does have one mean-looking river. The banks of the Tormes are perfect for weekend picnics, a trait that is exploited during the tradition of Lunes de Aguas (“Water Monday”) on the second Monday after Easter. Native only to the city of Salamanca, it was founded to celebrate the return of the world’s oldest profession after forty days of banishment.

As crazy as it sounds, there should be no reason for us to act surprised. Whether it’s throwing tomatoes, blowing things up or running with the bulls, the Spanish really do have a penchant for celebrating just about anything. And that’s just one more reason why I love this country.

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dakota #

    Thanks so much for the comment James. Made me smile. Madrid/Spanish food is great. I REALLY Love the last photo, with the heart-shaped hands, what a creative capture. Was good to see your pics of Plaza Mayor, took me back to Madrid. 🙂 Hope you’re well and May was a good month for you. Hey I wanted to ask you, would you mind if I link you? Have a good weekend. Dakota 🙂

    May 28, 2011
    • Thank you Dakota! The heart-shaped photo took a bit of work – I had to enlist the help of a friend to help me hold the camera. It took a few tries but I love the final result!

      Yes of course, I was about to ask you the same thing. 😀 Hope you’re having a wonderful time back in Bordeaux!

      James

      May 28, 2011
  2. I am LOVING the flower shots. also, spring is really a wonderful season isn’t it?
    bises from Lyon!

    June 1, 2011
  3. Dakota #

    Hola 🙂 Sorry for the late reply 🙂 Linkin’ you now 😉

    Hope you have had a good week, looking forward to your next post.

    June 1, 2011
  4. I’m currently in Buenos Aires, so we are in Fall heading quickly towards Winter. It is strange to experience seasons the opposite of most of your friends and family.

    June 6, 2011
  5. I remember this one, I loved it the first time.

    August 3, 2011
  6. That’s it! I HAVE to do Salamanca now! 🙂 Last September I fulfilled a dream in cruising on the Douro. It was only a day cruise from Regua to Porto but it was a golden day for me. I had intended to sail upstream from Regua to the Spanish border but it was too late in the year. Had I had more money and style I would have been on the 3 day trip that took in Salamanca. Some day I will make it there. Thank you for the inspiration 🙂

    September 12, 2013
    • It’s my pleasure, Jo. 🙂 Back in 2010-11 I had the privilege of living in Salamanca for nine months – there couldn’t have been a better place to learn Spanish and immerse myself into the culture. I’d recommend it for anyone visiting Spain!

      September 15, 2013

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